Where Flowers Bloom, So Does Hope

October 17, 2022

It’s mid-October here, and our flower garden is still in full bloom! We’ve had a long, exciting summer and the weather is still so warm it’s hard to believe it’s now Fall.

I’m happy to report that our first year growing a flower garden was a success! Not only was it a lovely place for us to spend our days, but we got to share our enjoyment with everyone who came to visit the garden. The happiness that flowers bring people is a new joy to me – definitely a joy worth sharing!

We also learned so very much along the way… Where do I start?

It’s fair to say that no matter what your little seed packet says in its planting instructions, Mother Nature gets the last say. I actually went into this year’s growing season thinking everything I planted would pop up and flourish exactly like it’s supposed to. And.. you guessed it, that was not my outcome. All the experienced gardeners out there are laughing at me (my mom included!). I had lots of surprises along the way, but more were good than bad.

Here is the full report, and a lot of beautiful pictures.

The flowers I will definitely plant again are:

Zinnias – these are a staple if you ask me! They grow from seed, are planted directly into the ground in our climate, are very low maintenance, and are so fun and bright! Walking down our aisles of Zinnia all summer was like racing the Rainbow Road in Mario Kart. These are great for bouquets since their stems are super long and straight. Our Zinnias took so long to pop up, and I wasn’t sure they’d ever bloom, but when they did it was a very pleasant surprise.

Planted from seed, we waited 3 months for these Zinnias to show their pretty faces!

Once the Zinnias were in bloom, the bright colors and the butterflies were never ending!

Dwarf Sunflowers – who knew that there was such a thing as a Teddy Bear Sunflower? Not I. It’s the perfect name. These are so soft and fuzzy, like a stuffed animal, they literally make you want to rub your face on them (yes, I did that – and my 4-year-old did too).

Dwarf Teddy Bear Sunflowers, true to their name!

Dahlias!! – these were easily my favorite thing to grow. They are just stunningly beautiful. Many times I found myself standing in the garden staring at a Dahlia that had just bloomed like it was a creature from space, awestruck at its beauty. I mean, these plants didn’t look like much when they were just greens, and they took a very long time to mature – frankly I had almost given up on them – then out of nowhere a gorgeous flower appeared, just one, and it completely caught me off guard. The intricacy of the petals on a Dahlia is a wonder. Each time a Dahlia bloomed I was in heaven. Little did I realize I had also planted some Dinnerplate Dahlias – also true to their name. These things are the size of literal dinner plates! Stunning.

A Dinnerplate Dahlia that just about knocked me off my feet when I first saw it. It was probably 8 inches in diameter!
I grew several different types of Dahlias, and the intricacy of each one had me in awe. This one is a type of Ball Dahlia.

Amaranthus – I chose the “Love Lies Bleeding” variety, having taken the recommendation of a master gardener from a WSU article I read online. This grew just as easily as the master gardener had said it would, and the way it drapes is beautiful. It’s like a small, maroon willow tree, with big green leaves. Once this bloomed, I started putting Amaranthus in every bouquet I made.

The Amaranthus in this bouquet are the wispy maroon blooms draping down onto the table. Creating a balanced (or perfectly unbalanced) bouquet is more challenging than I expected.

Bells of Ireland – its refreshing green beauty matches the sharp thorns up its spine! Definitely a must-have in a garden, but wear rubber-coated gloves.

My cuttings ready to go in a vase. From left – Roses, Zinnias, Bells of Ireland, and Sunflowers.

Flowers I chose this year that I will not grow in the garden next year:

Hollyhocks – these are very pretty, but not for a cutting garden. They droop and lose all their height as soon as you cut them. They are perennials, so next Spring I’ll dig them up and move them somewhere else on the property.

Mammoth Sunflowers – not many things beat a field of Mammoth Sunflowers, so in the future we’ll just keep these together in their own field and not intertwined with the cutting flowers.

There were three flowers that did not grow at all for me: Carnations, Echinacea, Agastache. I planted them all from seed.

So there’s the recap on the garden. My obsession with flowers is officially in full swing, and I’m already dreaming about what next year’s garden will look like, and importantly, how I can make it profitable!

As far as the other parts of the property, we kept a small focus on a few different areas. The Chicken Garden became a jungle of vegetables! We sent staff from the Lodge up there on several occasions to take some veggies home. We grew another Mammoth Sunflower field on the Grove, over where a section of olive trees had been, and it brought a new light to that area – where there had been so much hope, then loss, had once again been restored to a place of beauty. This new excitement of flowers, having friends and guests at Antheia, and sharing our joys with them has been refreshing. It is why we started this company in the first place, and has brought a whole new spark to the hope for Antheia’s future.

A Kildeer pair laid their eggs right down the middle of a wood chip path. We gardened alongside them for weeks until the day their babies hatched! It was so cool to observe. The whole family even stayed nearby for the rest of the warm season and we watched the baby birds grow up by our new garden.
 We frequently spot Marmots around the property. Although they can be pesky, they’re pretty cute.